Historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey and the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, and features seven hills, each topped by imperial mosques. Our guide to running in Istanbul has routes in the commercial and historical center on the European side, and on the Asian side, where 1/3 of the population lives. It’s the 7th largest city in the world and the 5th largest tourist destination. Note that this is a dense and crowded city, with some pollution, so you’ll have to pick your spots. Running is not as commonplace as some other European cities.
The best places to run in Istanbul are along the water, featuring the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Highlights are around Sarayburnu, near the Old City (Sultanahmet), between Kuruçeşme and Bebek, and along the Dalyan-Pendik Coast. For hills, head up to Camlica Hill, and for woods and trails, head to the expansive Belgrade Forest, 15 km north. A great ‘destination’ run is Büyükada, reachable by ferry, featuring a 7 km loop around the island.
Istanbul has a good and continually improving transport system, with trams, buses, rail, and a subway system. The 0-1 is the inner ring road, the 0-2 is the outer ring road; and there are three Bosphorus Bridges and the new, dual-deck Eurasia Tunnel under the Bosphorus strait also provides road crossings for motor vehicles between the Asian and European sides of Turkey.